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Top Nigerian Entertainers in Diaspora

The Nigerian entertainment industry is booming, both at home and abroad. In this piece, KORE OGIDAN takes a look at some of the biggest entertainers of Nigerian descent who practice their craft abroad.




Singer, songwriter and actress, Sade Adu, was born in Ibadan, Nigeria, to a professor father, Adebisi, and a British nurse, Anne. She grew up in Essex, England, and has always shown signs of creativity from an early age.


She started her career as a fashion designer and a part-time model. Well established and regarded in her craft, Sade has won prestigious awards such as Billboard, MOBO, and BRIT, among others.


Still, she is more than a singer and a pretty face. She is highly fashionable, too. Even at 60, Sade Adu turns heads with her fashion statements every time. She keeps to trends and always stays classy. Not one to go for loud jewellery or screaming colours, Adu proves that one can be conservative in dressing, yet aesthetically appealing.




Nigerian-American rapper, Jidenna Mobisson, popularly known as Jidenna, is the definition of a style icon. His creativity doesn’t end in the studio; it’s also heavily present in his fashion style. The singer/rapper known for hits like Classic Man, Bambi, Boomerang and many more, has won four Soul Train Music awards which he received in 2015. While in secondary school, he co-founded a rap group: Black Spadez. This was where he began producing, arranging and writing songs. He graduated from Stanford University.


Jidenna is known for his sleek appearance, matching colours and wearing African prints, especially as suits. Not only is Jidenna a singer, but he is also known for featuring in television series like Luke Cage and Insecure. Although his fashion sense is respected everywhere, he didn’t adopt his style until 2010 when his father died.


The singer developed his personal style in the university, where he learnt about the power of fashion from his psychology professor. He is the founding member of Fear and Fancy, a social club which is a collective of entrepreneurs, activists, educators, scientists, and artists who host soirees, dinner parties, and demonstrations. He is also very invested in his Nigerian roots.

Jidenna lived in Nigeria from his birth on May 4, 1985, till he was six years old, and moved back to the United States, where he still resides.




Olubowale Akintimehin was born on September 21, 1984, in Washington DC, USA. He is more popularly known by his stage name, Wale (Folarin). Wale attended Robert Morris University and Virginia State University on football scholarships, then transferred to Bowie State University, all in the US. He later dropped out due to academic reasons.


He was nominated for a Grammy for his song Lotus Flower Bomb and he has BET Hip Hop award, Nigeria Entertainment Award and a Soul Train Music award. The rapper who is known for songs such as Bad, Matrimony, Ambition and more, is a huge wrestling fan. He even made references to this sport in many of his songs. He also has five studio albums and has featured Lady Gaga, Gucci Mane, Jazmine Sullivan, Kid Cudi and other hitmakers in his songs.


Wale’s statements are not restricted to the studio where he also writes and produces. His statement in fashion is also fascinating. Unlike many rappers of his status, Wale doesn’t adorn himself with big and shiny jewellery. He prides himself on his judiciousness and frugality. His simplicity is classy and timeless and makes him very attractive to look at. Interestingly, he also sells clothing items that he makes, including tee-shirts and face caps.


Although Wale is not married, he has a three-year-old daughter, Zyla.



Uzo was born in Massachusetts, USA, to Nigerian parents from Anambra State. She graduated from Boston University, where she studied Classical Voice and competed in track and field competitions, including the 55-metre race and the 200-metre race. Her brother, Obi, played hockey at the University of Massachusetts and went on to play six seasons professionally. In 2003, she began gaining recognition for her acting in a performance in Translations of Xhosa at the Olney Theatre Center for the Arts, Maryland. That earned her a Helen Hayes Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Play.

She made her Broadway debut in 2007 when she played the character, Toby in Coram Boy and in 2012, she made her first television appearance on Blue Bloods. In 2013, she began playing the mentally challenged character, Suzanne Warren, also known as ‘Crazy Eyes’, in the ongoing Netflix comedy-drama series, Orange is the New Black.


Uzo has won two Emmy awards for the role, Crazy Eyes. She also won a Critics’ Choice Television Award and five Screen Actors Guild awards.


It’s safe to say that this beauty with brains is also a great ‘fashionista’. Her red carpet looks have stood her out over the years and every time she appears in public, she nails it.



Wale was born in Islington, London, to Nigerian parents of Yoruba descent on August 22, 1967. He and his two sisters were given up for adoption to a Caucasian family when he was six years old. At the age of eight, he was brought back to Nigeria by his biological parents but was taken back to England shortly after. He graduated from King’s College London with a Law degree and bagged a Master in Law from the University of London.


Before he became an actor, he was a model, which he started when he worked at a clothes store while he was in the university. He is known for his works in projects such as the television series, Oz and Lost. He also gained recognition with films like The Bourne Identity, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, The Mummy Returns, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Suicide Squad, Bilal, Pompeii, and lots more.


Thanks to his background in fashion, Agbaje has not failed to impress wherever he is spotted. He’s known for showing up in perfectly tailored suits and has never had a wardrobe malfunction. He is also yet to be married and has no children.


John Boyega


John Adegboyega was born on March 17, 1992, to Nigerian parents. His father is a pastor. He attended the University of Greenwich where he got a degree in Film Studies and Media Writing but he dropped out to focus on his acting. He went for acting lessons at the Identity School of Acting, Hackney, UK. Although he lives in the UK, he has visited Nigeria many times and has a strong affiliation with his Nigerian roots.


Boyega appeared in the movie, Half of a Yellow Sun, which is an adaptation of the book by Chimamanda Adichie. He also starred in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Pacific Rim: Uprising (which he also produced), Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Detroit and many others. He has also performed in many stage plays and television series.


Boyega’s fashion sense is also very alive. The ambitious film star makes a statement with every piece he wears- whether a suit and tie to a red carpet or casual jeans and a tee-shirt. He owns his age and carries himself accordingly. He stays out of the negative spotlight and isn’t linked to being married yet. The actor grew up watching many Mount Zion movies.




He is a British-Nigerian-American actor and producer who is most known for his character, Martin Luther King Jr, in the biographical movie, Selma. He was born in Oxfordshire, England, to a Yoruba father from Oyo State, and his mother from Edo State. He grew up in South London and moved to Lagos, Nigeria, when he was six. He returned to England when he was 14.


He was studying Theatre at City and Islington College when his teacher suggested that he became an actor. He then enrolled for a year in an acting foundation course at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. In 1999, he began his stage career. He was the first black actor to play an English king in a major production of Shakespeare. Some criticised this casting choice but his performance was critically acclaimed. He won an Ian Charleson Award for Best Performance by an Actor under 30 in a classical play in 2001.


He has starred in many television programmes and performed as a voice artiste. He has also co-produced movies such as Nightingale, Captive, Five Nights in Maine, and most recently, A United Kingdom, under his independent production company, Yoruba Saxon Productions. He has an NAACP Image Award and a Critics’ Choice Movie Award. Oyelowo was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to drama.


He is married and has four children. He is also very stylish.




He was born in London’s Forest Gate, to Nigerian parents of Igbo descent. His father was a doctor and his mother was a pharmacist. His younger sister is CNN correspondent, Zain Asher.


In 1988, at the age of 11, he came to Nigeria with his father for a wedding and as they were driving after the celebration, their car was involved in a crash with a lorry. His father was killed, and Chiwetel was badly injured. The scars are still visible on his forehead.


Chiwetel acted in school plays till he joined the National Youth Theatre in London. He got into the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art but left after his first year because Steven Spielberg cast him in the film, Amistad. He played the role of Othello in Othello at the Bloomsbury Theatre in September 1995, and again at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow, in 1996.


He starred in Half of a Yellow Sun, Children of Men, Sherlock Gnomes, 12 Years a Slave, Triple 9 and most recently, The Lion King. He has also done many theatre and television plays. He has a British Academy Film Award and many others. In 2008, he was awarded the Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his services to drama. Again, in 2015, he was awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his services to drama.


Although Chiwetel doesn’t step out too often, he always nails his looks whenever he’s out. His taste and sophistication makes him look dapper all the time.




He is internationally known for his portrayal of Georges Rutaganda in the 2004 film, Hotel Rwanda. He was born in Lagos, Nigeria, where he spent his early years before his family relocated to London, England. He trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and graduated in 1987. He was offered a place with The Royal Shakespeare Company, where he continued his classical training.


He made a successful transition to British television and appeared in The Bill, Trial and Retribution, and Grange Hill. At some point, he moved to South Africa. After Hotel Rwanda, he relocated to Los Angeles, USA, where he featured in blockbusters such as Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.


He is also known for his unique voice and has done numerous voiceover works ranging from television and radio to video games such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.


Kae-Kazim is an appointed global ambassador for Africa 2.0. This is a civil society organisation that provides a platform for emerging and established African leaders to drive the transformation of Africa.


When it comes to fashion, he keeps it very simple and neat. He can be found rocking a tee-shirt and casual trousers. He is also very passionate about his Nigerian roots and keeps connected as much as he can. He has worked in both Hollywood and Nollywood. He has plans to make his own productions and is very passionate about African stories. He is married with three children.




His real name is Henry Samuel but he is known professionally as Seal. He is a British musician and songwriter who was born on February 19, 1963, but was raised in foster care.


He was born in Paddington, London, to a Nigerian mother, Adebisi Ogundeji, and an Afro-Brazilian father, Francis Samuel. He bagged a two-year diploma in architecture. Seal spent a brief time singing in local clubs and bars till 1987 when he joined a British funk band, Push. Seal is also known for the prominent scarring on his face which is the result of a type of autoimmune disease called lupus which affects the skin and leaves large scars.


He has won many awards throughout his career, including three Brit Awards, four Grammy Awards and an MTV Video Music Award. As a songwriter, he received two Ivor Novello Awards for Best Song Musically and Lyrically from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers, and Authors.


He got married to model, Heidi Klum, in 2004 but they broke up in 2014. He has four children and is also active in charity work.


Not only is he a renowned musician, but Seal also knows his onions when it comes to fashion. Perhaps, being married to a model rubbed off on him.

By Dominic C. Odoh


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